Tag: fish

Fish Tacos with Pineapple Salsa


It’s not even the middle of May and it was 25 Celsius here yesterday. When it’s warm and bright like that I want to eat dinner in the back yard, with a great cocktail or a cold beer, and let the day just fade away into the evening. Something easy, fresh, bright, lime wedges doing double duty in glasses and on plates. Laughter, sunset, the din of the city as it cools and slows down again for another balmy night; this is the landscape of perfect summer cooking and eating. But what to make?
Easy: fish tacos! (more…)

Grilled Halibut with Charred Baby Bok Choi and Brown Butter

Recently we re-vamped our backyard. We have planted more than 300 square feet of garden space and we are growing a huge assortment of things, we found a sweet little picnic table with 4 detached benches on Craigslist and painted them a cheery vintage aqua colour, we made a patio, flanked by trellises covered in peas and beans, but if you ask my husband what he is most excited about, he will likely say it’s the new barbecue.  I can’t say I disagree. Transforming the yard was a ton of work, an insurmountable project had it not been for 4 of our friends who wanted in on the action, and it is incredibly rewarding to be growing our own vegetables, learning about gardening and actively composting. However, the immediate gratification that comes from a kick ass barbecue should not be over looked.

How un-committed to cooking would I sound if I said that I don’t like cooking fish because it makes the house smell fishy? How shallow! But I do love fish, and living in Vancouver we are spoiled for choice when it comes to fresh seafood and fish. That’s the beauty of grilled fish – the fast, high heat perfectly compliments the delicate nature of almost all fish and there is no stinky clean up or lingering smell. So, when a very large slab of halibut came home from our grocery shopping today, it was easy to get excited and fire up the ‘cue. Ten or so minutes later, we dressed it with some browned butter and dinner was on the table.

Grilled Halibut with Charred Baby Bok Choi and Brown Butter

For the fish:

Cut the fish into serving portions, season on both sides with olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill on high heat until opaque (about 5 inutes per side, based on pieces 1-1/2 inches thick), turning only once.

For the Charred Baby Bok Choi:

Once the fish is half cooked and has been turned, place freshly washed and still wet whole baby bok choi bulbs on the grill over medium heat. Allow to cook for 5 -7 minutes or until wilted and slightly charred. To serve, place the baby bok choi under the fish before finishing with the brown butter.

For the Brown Butter:

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter per portion of fish in a small saucepan over medium heat. Allow the butter to separate and the milk solids to brown. This will take about 5 minutes. The butter with froth and foam. Remove from the heat once you can smell its toasted, nutty smell and it has turned an appetizing medium brown. Be careful not to burn it! Add to it 1 small hot chilli, minced, a clove of crushed garlic and the zest of a 3rd of a lemon. Steep the aromatics in the hot butter and drizzle over the fish when serving.

Seafood Chowder

I don’t really want to admit my inspiration for this chowder. The thing is, I’m all for celebrity chefs, televised cooking programs and the like. I also understand that it’s a hot business that requires a well defined image and personality and a willingness to often appear arrogant and ridiculous. But there’s a certain ginger-haired celebrity chef who just irks me. I’m sure he’s a model human being in real life, but I find his casual arrogance less than appetizing.

It’s for that reason that I find it so vexing that this morning, while perusing the idiot-box, the first espresso of the morning in hand, I was somehow inclined to watch an episode of Throwdown with the Chef Who Shall Not Be Named. He and his opponents engaged in a battle for a winning Westcoast Chowder. My delight was obvious when he lost the cook-off, but I was definitely sold on making some chowder of my own.

Despite the star’s generally irritating persona, I did agree with a principle of chowder that he and his opponents shared: not using a roux to thicken it. So often chowders are thickened almost beyond reason and good judgement, but my personal preference is for a thinner, lighter, though still creamy broth. Not only do you end up with a less gluey bowl of chowder, the large-ish pieces of seafood stand out more distinctly in a thinner, more elegant broth.

A brief shopping trip, a few pantry staples and an hour or so of cooking later and this seafood stew was ready to go. My friend was telling me that he got his fish for this dish from Alaskan Harvest and was so happy with their stock! We’ll be dunking in whole wheat baguette but the classic soda crackers wouldn’t be half bad either.

Seafood Chowder

Feeds 6 hungry people, possibly with leftovers.

1 large shallot, minced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 large carrot, diced small

2 ribs of celery, diced small (include some of the leaves if you have them)

4 strips of bacon, chopped small

1 bay leaf

1/2 tsp. dried tarragon

1/4 tsp. chili powder

1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg

1 cup dry white wine

1 cup clam juice/nectar

4 cups of water

2 medium red skinned potatoes, chopped into bite-sized cubes

1 cup of frozen corn (fresh would be great if you had it)

1 lb red snapper fillets, cut into bite-sized pieces

2 cans of baby clams (and the liquid they are packed in)

1 lb of prawns (I used the size that comes 31-40/lb)

1 C. half-and-half cream

salt and pepper to taste

chopped parsley to garnish

Prep the vegetables and aromatics by getting all the chopping out of the way and mixing up the seasonings.

Add the chopped bacon and bay leaf to a pot over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently. Allow the fat to fully render and the bacon pieces to get deeply browned. Don’t be alarmed by how dark the bottom of the pot will be, all that will lift up later when the liquids come in.

There’s something odd and funny about chopping bacon on a chicken shaped cutting board. I’m sure there’s a “That’s what she said!” joke in there somewhere …

This is nothing but a gratuitous bacon shot.

Back to business…

Once the bacon is cooked, discard the bay leaf and add in the celery, carrot, shallot and garlic. Stir well and allow the vegetables to soften. Add the spices and cook for 5 minutes. Add the wine, clam nectar and water. Add the chopped potato and corn; allow to simmer for 15 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through.

Prep the fish by chopping it into bite-sized chunks. Keep it somewhat rustic, you want to be able to see the pieces in the finished chowder. Likewise, get your shrimp ready (de-vein or shell them if necessary – I left the tails on because they are pretty).

When the potatoes are cooked through add the clams and the juices they were packed in, the fish and the prawns. Add the cream. Bring the whole pot to a boil and immediately turn down to a low, slow simmer. Let it cook gently so the flavours can develop, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve piping hot with plenty of chopped fresh parsley and crusty bread for dunking. Enjoy!